Do you remember this post where Kerri worried about her sweet potatoes wilting?
Good news. Kerri kept growing and ended up with a nice yield:
She writes in a recent email:
“Thank you so much for your help! I’m super excited to grow my second crop! Last year, I planted the slips on June 3 and harvested on October 8. I planted 11 slips in a 4×4 bed. (Of course the vines spilled outside the bed, making 18” of awesome soil on all sides of that bed! But there were no potatoes outside the 4×4 bed.)
The potatoes were delicious and we ate them all during the fall. On Christmas day, we mashed the final bit for the family dinner. The little ones were pretty great mashed. 🙂
Anyway, here are my questions for you:
1. Why are some so huge and some so little? I thought it might have been too many slips in too small a space, thus crowding the potatoes, but I watched your recent video and you planted a TON of slips together. Then I thought it might have been that I harvested too early, but I had a couple of super huge potatoes and I’m afraid they would have been monsters if I waited.
2. When should I plant my sweet potatoes this year? Is early June a good time? I think in the past you told me you usually harvest in November. If I plant them in late March, can I harvest earlier? (and maybe plant a second bed in June or July for fall!)
3. Will sweet potatoes grow in sandy soil? Maybe I can put them in the sand with some weeds and organic material and let them be some of the living roots in the ground like the Natural Farmer shared.
I appreciate your help and expertise in everything gardening! I’m voraciously reading your Compost Everything book right now. I am desperately trying to turn some sand into soil! 😀
Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. I love being able to answer the majority of my gardening questions by using the search bar on your site.”
Thank you, Kerri, I appreciate it.
Let me take the questions one at a time.
Why are some sweet potatoes huge and others little?
This is just the way sweet potatoes grow.
We’re used to seeing sweet potatoes in similar sizes stacked up in supermarket displays. Farmers don’t want huge potatoes or tiny ones, so those are culled.
The USDA breaks sweet potatoes into different grades.
For example, “U.S. Extra #1” sweet potato rules are:
I will second what David had to say.
I always recommend sweet potatoes to anyone starting out in south Florida. They generally do well in any soil, sand or prepared bed, most of the time. I have three different beds going now for staggered harvest times. I get extra large to golf ball size in the same harvest. But they all taste good, no matter the size.
Next step for me is to introduce some varieties to the rotation.
And eat the leaves, chopped and boiled (discard cooking liquid)….soooooo nutritious and delicious!!
I just planted my first sweet potato slips. Woke up to almost every plant missing leaves.. Not sure what ate them.. Any suggestions other than building a fence? Will they still grow without leaves? I’m in fort myers.